Int'l community pressures Gaddafi to step down

French minister calls for sanction on Libyan oil; British secretary says violent perpetrators will be held accountable.

Libya protesters truck 311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Libya protesters truck 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The French Defense Minister Alain Juppé expressed Thursday his hope that Muammar Gaddafi's rule was approaching its end.
"I wholeheartedly hope that Gaddafi is living his last moments as leader," Reuters quoted Juppé as saying in an interview with France Inter radio.
Juppé also reiterated calls for sanctions on Gaddafi after his bloody crackdown on protesters, saying that if the option was raised for ceasing oil purchases from Libya, he would "go for it."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on BBC Radio 4 that he urged the international community Thursday to exert pressure on Gaddafi as the Libyan leader's hold on power within his country appeared to be slipping, Reuters reported.
Hague stated that the "odds are stacking heavily against him," and that it is on the international community to put heavy pressure on the regime who is "by all accounts now committing serious offenses." He added that "we will be looking for wars to hold to account people who are responsible for these things."
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People who escaped the chaos in Libya on two Turkish ships Thursday said they saw looting, bodies hanging from electric polls and militias driving vans filled with victims who had died in the uprising that broke out in Libya against the Gaddafi government. Some reports claimed that 2,000 people have been killed in Benghazi, the eastern city that protesters claim they now control, and 1,000 in Tripoli.
Al-Jazeera reported Thursday that the opposition has gained control of the oil region east of Tripoli, and was working to defend the outposts against forces loyal to Gaddafi. Thousands in the coastal town of Tabrouk celebrated their freedom from Muammar Gaddafi by waving flags of the old monarchy, honking horns and firing guns in the air around a city square where he once executed people.
Despite reports, the NATO secretary general said that the alliance will not intervene in Libyan conflict.
Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) also expressed solidarity with the protesters, and condemned Gaddafi, Reuters reported on Thursday citing the SITE Intelligence Group.
According to the report, AQIM said Gaddafi hired African mercenaries and ordered aircraft to fire on demonstrators. The group also urged Muslim scholars and journalists to support the Libyan people.
"We were pained by the carnage and the cowardly massacres carried out by the killer of innocents Gaddafi against our people and our unarmed Muslim brothers who only came to lift his oppression, his disbelief, his tyranny and his might," AQIM was quoted as saying in the statement cited by Reuters.
"We call upon the Muslim Libyan people to have steadfastness and patience, and we incite them to continue their struggle and revolution and to escalate it to oust the criminal tyrant," AQIM was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi's son, Seif el-Islam Gaddafi, on Libyan State Television invited foreign diplomatic journalists to Libya to witness for themselves whether or not the Libyan government has sent aircraft to attack demonstrators, Israel Radio reported Thursday. He added that the issue has been exploited by the international media.